Friday, April 5, 2013

Mainstreamed Media: Sharing New Perspectives

When I entered high school, I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to go to events, conduct interviews, help others experience what I had experienced. I wanted to set the scene and write the facts. I was all about it. So my first semester of my freshman year, I enrolled in an introduction to journalism class. I enjoyed it enough, could have pursued it if I had been willing to commit the necessary time. I had the opportunity to be a journalist, and still do, I suppose. I still have the means to try my hand at a career many members of the developmentally disabled community typically don't get the chance to experience. Except, perhaps, in Portland. Mainstreamed Media is a non-profit organization based in Portland, Oregon that gives people with developmental disabilities the opportunity to be journalists. The organization's goal is to provide people a voice in the media and a platform for community involvement.

Mainstreamed Media founder, Todd Kimball, says he got the idea for his organization after TEXT. Kimball has cerebral palsy and knows what it can be like to have a disability prevent you from doing things you'd like to do. Kimball also understands that people with developmental disabilities are creative, open, and have a rarely-heard perspective to share, asking questions and getting answers that other media would not. “I notice both through my own experience as a person with a disability and my work with people with developmental disabilities that people with developmental disabilities needed opportunities in life,” Kimball says. “They had incredible passion, they had interests in the same things that you and I do, but they just didn't have the vehicle to experience that.” He has seen the limited access the developmentally disabled are granted at entertainment events, like, for example, being consistently seated in the back row or only being able to attend if a paid staff member is available to keep watch. But with media credentials, members of the developmentally disabled community are allowed to experience events in an entirely different way.

Working with Mainstreamed Media has some pretty fantastic benefits. As mentioned, people with developmental disabilities get to see what it's like to be a journalist. But what's more (and enviable), they get unprecedented access to community events—like sports, concerts, or theater—that they are interested in and the opportunity to interview the celebrities at those events. For example, singer Lyle Lovett and comedian Lewis Black have both been interviewed by Mainstreamed Media's journalists. Furthermore, Mainstreamed Media, with the help of volunteer media assistants, allows people with developmental disabilities to develop and maintain new friendships with people who have similar interests.

If you're interested in getting involved with Mainstreamed Media or just want to know more about the organization, check out their website,, or email Todd at You can also call at 503-960-4683.

What do you think? Do you know anyone who is involved in this? Is it something you or someone you know might like to try?

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